Title: Pretending

Disclaimer: I own nothing.

Rating: K+


"Dr. Wilson?" Chase questioned, looking a little uncomfortable from his position in the doorway of Wilson's office, a refuge he'd never breached before. Wilson quickly ushered him in and set aside his work for the moment. He busied himself straightening the piles as he organized his thoughts and resolutely did not look at the other doctor. He must have spent just a few too many seconds preparing his speech because Chase had leaned forward in his chair, attempting to catch Wilson's eyes. "You paged me?"

Chase had not only been startled by the unexpected interruption from his differential diagnosis with House but more startled by who had sent the message. Wilson had never initiated contact with the blonde before, just as the intensivist had never bridged the gap that had appeared between them. It's not like they ever had any reason to interact; their areas of expertise were generally unrelated. Their contact had been limited to the simple nod of acknowledgment as they passed in the halls.

"Ah, yes." Wilson nodded, still refusing any eye-contact. "I hadn't expected you so quickly." And he hadn't. He'd specifically written 'not urgent' in the message so that Chase would take his time and arrive in a good mood. Neither of his goals had been achieved. Chase had come within minutes and looked hassled, though it was always hard to tell with him because he tended to keep his emotions capped and his face neutral. Wilson chalked up any residual annoyance to working with House as opposed to being called into his office.

"I wasn't busy." Chase responded with a half-shrug and relaxed back into the chair resting in from of Wilson's desk. In truth, he'd seen the message as godsent and forced himself not to thank Wilson profusely. The differential diagnosis had been simple enough but House was refusing to let them go before they explored every possibility, though it was clear from his demeanor that he'd already solved the case. His pager going off had given him the excuse he needed to get out of there. As an intensivist, it was not unusual for him to receive pages to the ICU that no one else got. Nor was it unusual for him to bolt from the room after getting a page. It was a maneuver he had gladly executed.

Wilson gave the other doctor a searching look as Chase seemed to relax more. "House annoying you that much?"

"He's trying to pick our brains over a case he's already solved." Chase grumbled defensively, though no one would blame him if he was simply annoyed by House himself.

"It keeps him from clinic work." Wilson commented agreeably. They sat in awkward silence for a minute, Chase trying not to let his curiosity override his manners and Wilson trying to let his manners override his nervousness.

"Is it a case?" Chase prompted, shifting in his seat to get more comfortable.

"Uh, no. It has nothing to do with work." Chase nodded amiably, still on his high from escaping House. "There's this betting pool going, actually. It's a thing the nurses do on their down-time to keep themselves occupied. It's kind of like horse-races, really. The more unlikely the outcome you're betting on, the smaller your investment and the greater your return."

Chase immediately picked up on the minor detail Wilson had left out. "And what are they betting on?"

"They're bored nurses." Wilson declared, as if that explained everything. At Chase's blank stare, he continued. "Relationships, of course. Who's going to go out with whom and whatnot."

"O...kay." Drawled the other doctor. He didn't say 'And why are you telling me this?' because there was no need. It read plainly in his expression.

"The betting pool is actually getting quite massive and there's one for nearly every doctor. According to the latest, chances are, I'm supposed to either go out with Nurse Cathleen or Doctor Young. There's also a point eight percent chance I'm already dating House." Wilson sighed in a way that says he was far too used to this while Chase snorted.

"What about me?"

"You apparently have an equal chance of going out with any of the nurses because they've all put their own names in."

Chase rolled his eyes and quickly shifted the topic. "Three questions: Why do you know about this? Why do you care about this? And why are you telling me?"

At this point, Wilson stopped making eye contact and returned to straightening up his desk. "Nurse Brenda has decided to bet that everyone is gay because it will give her the most return on her money. She's told the people she feels are most likely to actually be gay that she'll give them half the profits if they'll go date someone of the same sex. That'd be a couple thousand dollars per person."

"You're not seriously considering doing that, are you?" Wilson gave a half-hearted shrug and waited for it to click. "And what does this have to do with me-" The oncologist could almost see the light come on above Chase's head. "Oh." Chase stood abruptly, a hint of anger slipping through his mask as he stared at Wilson who was starting to feel all of ten inches tall. This was not going well. "I'm not that hard-pressed for cash. I didn't think you were either." Unexpectedly, Chase flopped back down in the chair, all traces of anger vanished, replaced by curiosity. "You're not." He said with finality. "But you still want to... to... go out with me? Why? Aren't you married?" The last part was an afterthought.

"I'm divorced. And not really 'go out,' just pretend to." Wilson quickly clarified, relieved by the turn of events. He truly did not know Chase all that well and hadn't been surprised at his initial reaction. It was more surprising to see him sitting there so calmly again. Chase was still looking at him expectantly. "House." He let his own annoyance slip into the tone. "He assumes that I have no life and he knows everything about me and the worst part is that I think he's right. I can't do anything without him knowing I'll do it before I even think about doing it. I want to send him down a few pegs. I want to see shock on his face for once. Mostly I just want him to stop thinking I'm so damn predictable."

Chase's eyes narrowed slightly in thought and Wilson wondered, not for the first time, what he had been thinking when he decided to page the other doctor. "I would love to deflate that ego of his." Chase said the word love like a starving man said the word food and for a minute, Wilson thought he might actually agree. "What I can't understand, though, is why you chose me. You could have picked any guy in the hospital and probably have better luck convincing House that you were dating. We've been acquainted for years and we've never had this long of a conversation before. Why me?"

"Did you ever notice how House picks on you more than the others?"

"Yeah..." Chase had always thought it was just his imagination, but here Wilson seemed to be confirming it.

"He thinks of you as a puzzle. One that he hasn't been able to solve, despite working on it for years. He thought you were a loyal puppy but you ratted him out to Vogler." Chase flinched but Wilson pressed unerringly on. "Foreman thinks you're just a rich kid but you took out loans which you're still paying off to get through college. Cameron says you're unfeeling but you're the one that sits by bedsides and reads books to little children. The nurses think you don't have a prejudiced bone in your body but you don't like fat people. I thought you'd given up on your father but his death still-"

"Stop." Chase interrupted. "I get your point. I'm a puzzle."

"More importantly, you're a puzzle House hasn't solved. It would infuriate him to no end to think I had solved it before him." Wilson waited as the other doctor tossed the idea around in his head. Maybe he shouldn't have brought up all those examples. He'd clearly hit a nerve. But Chase was a puzzle and he had no idea what to expect from the other man. He certainly hadn't expected his quiet, almost cheerful,